NPC Webs details a set of NPCs who could appear in a standard adventure location. These minor NPCs can serve as fleshed out background players, living their own lives.
These bandits are more than the usual gang of nondescript ruffians. Use them to give bit parts more personality, or let the PCs get embroiled in the dramas that unfold as they meet these background characters.
Vandilis, the Conscientious Objector
Describe him as: Drow, age indeterminate, flowing hair, luscious goatee
Portray him as: Unnaturally still until action is called for
Vandilis started his association with the bandits in an unusual way – as one of their victims. He had insinuated himself among the guards of a caravan intending to rob it, and was genuinely surprised when Layra Ezran’s gang showed up and beat him to the punch. He helped them find a buyer for their ill-gotten gains and has been with them ever since.
As a mage, his role in the group is insurance against the rare event that one of their targets is rich and smart enough to include magic in their defenses. Otherwise, he uses various cantrips to make the bandits seem more formidable than they are. He particularly enjoys arming Djiita with “dragon’s fire” using alchemical decoctions that allow her to belch flame.
Vandilis is beginning to grow concerned as the ranks of the group swell and dreams of avarice find a louder voice around the campfire. He knows the consequences of ambition. He watched his former gang get cut down by adventurers after they moved from robbing caravans to raiding manor houses. This has made him an odd voice of restraint, frequently counseling Captain Ezran to keep things simple and easy. It has earned him ire from the gang’s wilder members.
“Captain” Layra Ezran, the Gang Leader
Describe her as: Human, 40s, military physique, buzz cut, piercings
Portray her as: Mercurial, prone to switch moods with little provocation
Layra was once a mercenary in a respectable company, a veteran of several campaigns who saw her people get screwed over too many times. Whether it was a client stiffing them on pay, denying them crucial supplies or medical care, or simply having to accept lower status than the kingdom’s soldiers and knights despite getting the real work done, she got tired of it. If no one would give her the respect and esteem she was due, she would take it.
Under her leadership, the gang has done well enough. They regularly lighten the burden of wealth from travelers and merchant caravans. Now they stand at a crossroads—success has brought new blood to the ranks. All the new hands means each raid makes everyone less money. Larger targets could fill every purse, but those are riskier bets.
Layra faces pressure from two sources. Gorik wants to push everything to the limit, attacking manor houses, keeps, temples, and other sanctuaries of the wealthy and powerful. Vandilis wants her to keep her most trusted people and stay small, hitting reliable targets that provide a decent living but avoid serious reprisal.
This conflict reverberates through the ranks. She knows things will get violent if she can’t contain it.
Gorik, the Marauder
Describe him as: Tiefling, age indeterminate, maroon complexion, golden eyes, broken horns
Portray him as: Passionate, boisterous, often drinking from a flagon
Gorik is a bandit captain in every way but one—he’s not interested in leading. He’s had friendships and partnerships go sour over the petty vagaries of status. He prefers the company of staunch peers to subordinates.
However, he’s so good at establishing camaraderie among his fellows that he has quickly become a “first among equals.” Bandits compete for the honor of joining him on raids, try to impress him, ask his opinion on any subject, and defer to him more than he likes.
He knows the gang is restless. They dream of being a terror in the land, striking fear into the hearts of the wealthy and becoming rich beyond measure. He’s not sure whether they can pull that off . . . but he’s seen passion overcome talent, and the gang’s growing appetites are very real.
That blasted fool Vandilis keeps putting doubts in Layra’s mind, making her reconsider plans for expansion. The hungrier the gang gets for treasure and glory, the more dangerous it is to temper their ambitions. He doesn’t want to be in charge, but he might need to take the role for the sake of his buddies.
Djiita, the Saboteur
Describe her as: A lizardfolk with golden scales, towering and broad, perpetually hungry-looking
Portray her as: Polite but reserved
The day Djiitaa joined the gang was almost a disaster. Bandits are already suspicious. When a hulking, gleaming reptilian shows up and asks to speak to their leader, you can see that quick hands might reach for a weapon. Somehow, cooler heads prevailed, and Djiitaa met with the captain for a private conversation, the details of which remain between the two.
Despite that introduction, Djiita quickly became the subject of celebration. Many raids conducted after her arrival ended without bloodshed. Her mere presence intimidated targets into emptying their coin purses without a fight. The bandits have even perpetuated the myth that she is dragonborn, using decoctions supplied by Vandilis to create a convincing illusion of her “breath weapon.” Much of the gang’s current high morale revolves around her presence.
No one, even Vandilis, knows she’s actually a spy working for an ancient gold dragon who lives in the region, called Kriana in local legend. Kriana has instructed her agents to work as foes of evil and injustice, and to leave no trace of their influence.
This gang is a point of special concern. Kriana’s interpretation of prophecy has revealed that Gorik might become one of the darkest threats the world has ever faced. He must be stopped before he can attain power that will allow him to ascend. Djiita watches the growing tension with interest. She is prepared to sabotage the gang’s ambitions however she can.
Need a merchant for these bandits to rob? Look into Campaign Builder: Cities & Towns for all the background you need. Make a thriving city any villain would be happy to pillage!